Ofcom eyes 5GHz sub-band to improve Wi-Fi

News

The UK regulator is planning to open up a sub-band in 5GHz spectrum to help improve Wi-Fi quality.

Ofcom said it wanted to speed up connections for millions of people across the UK.

The growing use of Wi-Fi for video streaming and calling, gaming and remote working has led to a strain on the 2.4GHz channel that UK routers typically use.

While newer routers are compatible with 5GHz spectrum, which is less congested and has more capacity, Ofcom said it wanted to do more to safeguard performance.

Ofcom is proposing a dedicated Wi-Fi band within the 5GHz range, which it said it could do while ensuring protection for the likes of the satellite services that also use the band.

It said this extra band would increase the number of 80MHz channels available for Wi-Fi from four to six. The extra channels, which are already used in the United States, could be made available within a few years.

Ofcom added it wanted to work with the industry to see if there are additional airwaves that could be dedicated for Wi-Fi use.

Philip Marnick, Group Director of Spectrum at Ofcom, said: “People are placing greater demands on their broadband, so we need to ensure they aren’t let down by their wireless connection.

“We also want to close the gap between advertised speeds and the wireless performance that people and businesses actually receive. So we’re exploring ways to open up more airwaves for Wi-Fi.

"In the meantime, people can check their router is up to date, and use our W-Fi Checker app to test if it’s working properly.”

Ofcom offers the Wi-Fi checker app to determine the quality of performance and suggest ways of improving connections.